When last we left, our cooking competitor (aka me) had come up with two recipes for the entree round of the Real Women of Philadelphia.
If you missed the last installment click HERE.
To read from the beginning, start HERE.
It’s strange how passion can take over your life. Less than two months prior to all this I was living a life devoid of cream cheese.
Oh sure, I was known to sneak it into the odd dish or two, but at this point I was dreaming in it. And I wasn’t alone – the posting boards at the Real Women of Philadelphia were replete with conversations from home cooks all over Canada with the same longings - and in those early days, the community surged with hope. There were still chances to succeed and even though we were technically in competition with one another for coveted spots, something amazing and somewhat magical was beginning to occur: not only were we a part of a contest, we had become a community.
Although it is popular opinion to believe that a group of women pitted against one another in this way might cause the claws to come out, in reality nothing could have been further from the truth.
Maybe it’s because we all came to the community with a common love for food and cooking, or maybe it’s that cream cheese just naturally binds people together – whatever it was, the overwhelming feeling in this already tightly knit community was one of support and friendship that continued to grow as the contest went on making the early days of the experience when we all marveled over our collective creativity and concocted new recipes in our sleep ones I will remember with fondness the rest of my life.
The conversation and cream cheese camaraderie took me out of myself and some of the more stressful elements of my life and gave me something else to think about and look forward to. It gave me a sense of hope and excitement I hadn’t felt in years and helped me realize the importance of taking risks and pursuing passion – whether that be skydiving, deep sea fishing, or talking on camera while chopping pistachios.
As corny as it may seem, it was at that point I realized I had already won – for real this time, I was learning how to let an experience provide my reward without attaching its validity to outcome and had been gifted with the knowledge that living life in pursuit of a dream was a lot more fun and rewarding than living without it.
In the process I had begun to make real friendships and connections with the other women in the community and had come to the conclusion that, though the contest itself was going to be a lot more difficult to conquer than I had initially anticipated, I was in the company of cooks who were in the same boat and I gained a new found understanding of our shared vulnerability.
With that in mind, I set out to conquer dessert. We were now entering week four of the competition and while eagerly awaiting the announcement of the two entree finalists, the collective consciousness had begun to switch gears and the serious cream cheesers were locked, loaded, and ready for action.
While cream cheese has been traditionally well known as a dessert ingredient the sweeter side of cuisine has never been my forte. As well, even though I had lost the white spandex, I was still going strong with my weight loss efforts and knew an entire week of creating cream cheese desserts could ultimately result in my own ruination.
For that reason, I decided to submit just one recipe – a cream cheese and apple turnover drizzled with cream cheese frosting – and call it a day, knowing I would never be able to compete with the big guns baking up soufflés and other cream filled amazements.
As a result of this, however, I surprised myself because my apple turnovers weren't half bad - giving me yet another unexpected gift - I could come up with a dessert idea that was edible!
Truth be known, at that point in the experience I had become so invested in the community and my friendships there that I lost the obsessive desire to constantly check the boards. I was in a good place and would have been overjoyed to see the names of any of my new friends announced that next Wednesday because I knew how hard everyone was working.
After all of the disappointment in that first contest, my determined dieting, and effusive enthusiasm for cream cheese, I was at peace. If my name wasn't called that Wednesday the day would not be black. Knowing in my heart that I would be genuinely happy for another person, was emotional growth I would never have thought to achieve had it not been for The Real Women of Philadelphia and I was excited to see who the first two entree finalists would be.
The next Wednesday at 9 am Pacific Standard Time, a new video from Anna Olson was loaded onto the home page and to my surprise and excitement, along with Danielle Abray and her recipe for Philly Trout Cookout there I was!
Me, and my pork tenderloin - you know, the one that was eventually going to save my life..
Stay tuned next week for another installment!